We start in 6th grade. Our mantra is, “Seventh grade is the grade that counts.” It’s like being a junior in high school. This is when you want to get the best grades, highest test scores, and make sure get you get to school on time.
We try to be as honest as possible with the kids. For the skills centers, it’s about grades and attendance; they generally do not look at test scores. But students need to know that [f
or skills centers and citywide admission schools] there is a lottery. They may not get picked even though they qualify.
Julie Feldman, counselor, McCall Elementary, Society Hill:
We tell them to spend a lot of time looking. Go to the high school fair. Think hard about what your interests are and use high school to explore those interests.
We have students pick a reach school, a couple of schools we know they are able to get into successfully, and one we know they will get into easily. It’s like applying to college.
If students’ school records are not as pretty as they’d like, we have them write a letter about what happened, what they are doing about it, and what they expect to give to the school in addition to what they expect the school to give them. We get them letters of recommendation, and we work on interviewing skills.
Maxine Coker, counselor, Henry Elementary, Mount Airy: